Sunday, January 13, 2008


So Friday night, we wrapped up the Call of the Cthulhu campaign I had been running for the past year or so. I have been GMing Tatters of the King, an adventure built around the Hastur wing of the Cthulhu Mythos.

It is interesting that while most of my D&D adventures have been homebuilt, while most of the Cthulhu adventures I've run have been written by others, "canned" adventures. I modify stuff as I go along, but these tend to be renovations as opposed to original construction. Part of this is may be in part that they follow a more orderly storyline than the map-based D&D adventures, and part of it because it deals with an time (1920s, 1890s) that I am comfortable letting others do the initial research on.

And Tatters is pretty good as a "canned" adventure, better than most. On the initial read through, I saw some troubling points, but in practice it turned out better than I had hoped. The investigators went mad and doomed the world, which is sad, but in general it worked out pretty well. There are a couple generalized spoilers following, but nothing major.

The adventure is separated into two major sections. The first runs in the traditional fashion of a CoC adventure - the investigators discover something is wrong, that cultists are involved and about to made it worse, they must foil the cultists. If there is the CoC version of "you meet at the inn and go into the old ruins", that's it. And after an odd start, it is pretty good.

Then there is a year gap, and the SECOND part of the adventure picks up. And that's a little different. Now the heroes are assumed to have working knowledge of the existence of the mythos, and things get intriguing, leading to a non-standard confrontation that stresses the isolation of the investigators. While this is not spelled out, it works out pretty well in practice. Indeed, it is small things, like dreams and omens and the ever present Yellow Sign that makes this work. But that only became clear at the end of it all.

Downsides? The adventure leaves a big gap between the two halves that must be filled in between by the GM (We spent an evening just running the gap between the two, and I boned up on my 1928-1929 history as a backup). The opening is "soft" - a chance gathering of individuals who are sucked into the mythos. The ending is, to be honest, brutal, and has a very narrow range of success for the group (and when two of them went mad, well, then that reduced their chances further). There are some errors with the timing (some handouts have the wrong year, some of the passages of time feel like too much or too rushed). And there are a few "plothamnmers" in the story - where things HAVE to fall a certain way to advance the tale.

But in general it was as good adventure, better than when I first read it. Which is one of the challenges of reviewing an adventure - you cannot tell exactly where the weak spots and strengths are until you really run it.

And one last thing - When I started this adventure I was a little disappointed with blogspot's performance, and started a Cthulhu blog over on livejournal. I found LJ to be a little clunkier than I wanted it to be, and with an increase in personal work (Eye of the North and all that), soon dropped it. If you are interested in the early adventures (particularly for the players, who had know idea I was doing this, well, go here.

And make a Sanity Check.

More later,